Even If

It’s more than 10 years since my cancer diagnosis. During this time some of my friends have passed away from cancer. I don’t have an answer for why I’m here and others are not. But there is a temptation to build our theology of God based on our experiences. I heard one woman say she could no longer believe in God, because she prayed for her sister and her sister died. Others have been drawn to God through their experience of healing.

Last year I spent a term reading through the Book of Daniel in the Old Testament. God’s people had been decimated and those who remained had been removed from every vestige of security. Their means of worship had been destroyed. The temple, priests, and sacrificial system had gone. They were ripped from their land. They had no king. God’s promises seemed to come up empty. What of the blessing he had promised to Abraham and David? God seemed to have forgotten his people. He appeared remote and disinterested.

The perspective of Daniel is instructive for us today. When we look at our immediate circumstances, and their impact on us personally, it’s easy to project our thoughts and feelings on to God. We need to look through the lens of Scripture. The Book of Daniel reveals a God who works out his good purposes through the rise and fall of nations and empires. Nothing is outside his rule or care. This same God is at work through governments and pandemics today. He is the God of big things.

God also revealed himself to be the God of small things. He related personally with those who trusted him. He cared for his people in the mist of international instability. Life was chaotic and dangerous, but God could be trusted whatever the circumstances. It’s the same for us today. Watching the news, seeing the pandemic wreak havoc wherever we look, can lead us to lose faith in God. How can he let these things happen? The faithfulness of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego encourages us to stand firm today.

If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”  (Daniel 3:17-18)

Did you notice those two little words in verse 18? Even if. The faith of Daniel’s friends is not contingent of personally favourable outcomes. They are not driven by self-protection. It’s not all about them. They don’t call on God to prove himself to them. They simply acknowledge him in life and death.

I don’t know how much Daniel and his friends understood of the resurrection to come. Perhaps they simply knew that trusting in God was the only wise option. We have the privilege of living this side of the resurrection of Jesus. For those who have since been thrown into the flames, and who have burned because of their faith in God—and there have been many—there is the hope of life with Christ.

I’ve been encouraged by this song by Mercy Me, called Even If.

I know You’re able and I know You can
Save through the fire with Your mighty hand
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone

I know the sorrow, I know the hurt
Would all go away if You’d just say the word
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone

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